Yael “Jelly” Sanchez almost wasn’t a tattoo artist. If her life flows smoothly now, it’s because she paid the early years in sweat. Sanchez owns The Surly Skull Tattoo Studio in San Angelo, TX, a shop lodged in an antebellum house with a unique stone front and an interior fireplace. In high school she sold designs to tattoo shops for $20. When she couldn’t get picked up as an apprentice – because she was female – she settled for henna, and listened to everyone tell her she should be a tattoo artist.
Because of her military husband, she frequently moved. “So every few years I tried,” said Sanchez. “I’d bring my drawings in and tell them I’d really like an apprenticeship. If I was turned down I just gave up until we moved somewhere else.” Eventually, she gave up entirely.
Then working in a coffee shop in New Orleans, fifteen years after she’d first begun trying, she found herself in conversation with a tattoo artist. One thing led to another, and suddenly, she was an apprentice. “I worked my full-time job during the day, then I’d walk over in my uniform, put on my apron and start cleaning,” said Sanchez, who was sometimes still there at six in the morning and required to be at her paying job at nine.
In June 2005, only four months later, she earned her chair. Then Hurricane Katrina showed up in August. Displaced without tools, portfolio, or friends, she landed in a ghetto shop in Houston. Said Sanchez, “It was the bottom. I figured I’d probably never get any lower, and all I could go was up.” She auditioned. “They loved my work and hired me at 35 percent because I was a girl. Those were the owner’s words exactly.” He sold her everything she needed at, she estimates, about a 300 percent markup, topping it with fees the male artists didn’t have to pay. When he wanted her to do a giant tiger back piece for $275, she’d had enough.
After toughing it out in several other shops, she was hired by Walter “Wally” Jones, who hired her because her work was “so clean,” despite having less experience than he required. Difficulties continued, but Sanchez persisted, until she found a good economy in San Angelo and beginning with her shop, things suddenly started to come together very easily.
Tatt2Away® popped up on Facebook. “I was like, ‘What is that?’” said Sanchez, who has been living with tattoo regrets for almost eight years but hasn’t wanted to go through the laser process. “I see the blistering, scarring and damage to the dermis, and I don’t want it happening to my skin.” She watched the video. “I was really impressed to see it wasn’t laser, and it actually left a clean spot. I was like wow I got to check this out,” she said. “I researched it and I was like, ‘This stuff is amazing. Why isn’t it everywhere? It’s so much more effective than laser, why isn’t this in every city?’”
Said Sanchez, “This town is ripe for a good tattoo removal system. Almost everybody I’ve seen has a bad tattoo.” Her vision for Tatt2Away is to prove a tattoo removal system is effective and to help with her coverups. “I see how people feel diminished because of their bad tattoos,” said Sanchez. “They say they’re embarrassed to take off their shirt or they don’t want to wear a bikini. They lose their self-esteem.” She can relate. She has a tattoo on her arm she thought was going to be put on by a really good artist. “She was on twenty Xanax and screwed up my arm. I can’t hide it so I have to wear long sleeves, and it’s hot in Texas.”
Since she came to San Angelo, Sanchez said she’s had to do “so many coverups and repairs, it’s ridiculous.” She is empathetic that they don’t want to show their skin. “I work really hard at doing advanced coverups. When they end up with something so much better on them, I see a complete change in their stature.” They smile. Stand up straight. “I want to give my customers work they can feel proud to show off. If I can provide an effective e tattoo removal service, I might be able to help people who have their faces tattooed up and would like to get something better but can’t because they’re covered in really bad ink.”
Tatt2Away is a specific patented method for non-laser, all-natural tattoo removal. The patent and registered trademark cover unique elements – including the template – that contribute to its success. If you visit a location claiming to be a certified Tatt2Away center and they fail to use the template in your procedure, leave (and please let us know).
The Surly Skull of San Angelo, Texas is now scheduling Tatt2Away consultations in their studio. New art, coverups, and non-laser tattoo removal all under one roof!
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